The outside world is awakening. Warm breezes blow through my hair, rustle my face. The green grass presses against my bare feet, and tender flowers open their sleepy eyes. Buds begin to appear on the trees as little spots of pink and green. We fold away jackets, one thought in mind.
Warmth, sunshine, free time. The list goes on and on. Running, skipping, catching fireflies in the twilight sun. For many of us, summer brings a time of rest, a time to wind down and enjoy life.
But for me, summer brings a lot of decisions. A lot of questions. Like I expressed in my last post, I want my life to make a difference. I want to live a fulfilling, God-honoring, history-changing life. I want to be part of a revolution - or a revival - bigger than myself. I want us, as a body of believers, to change the world.
Those thoughts have especially been on my mind during these short months before summer break arrives in full array. When May begins, we will have nearly four months away from textbooks, away from the busyness of school. Four months. That represents 1/3 of our year.
This brings up a deeper question for me. If I have all this spare time how will I make use of it? I think back over past summers. Images of swimming, gardening, picking berries, taking fun summer classes, and roaming through the creek come to mind. Such fun times they were. Such wonderful memories. But what about this summer?
I already have a long list of possibilities. So many opportunities arise, begging for my attention. But they come with a choice. Either I could spend my time doing this... or that. I could take a class... or I could focus more directly on my writing. I could go to a summer camp... or I could stay home, focus on my relationship with God, and spend time with my family. The possibilities are endless! The problem is... I can't do everything.
Ultimately, I have been wanting to seek God's will in these decisions. I have waited... listened... hoping He would speak clearly to me. I wish He would make it clear and easy to understand. I wish He would just say, "Hosanna, spend your summer doing ____." This decision making is so confusing! God wants us to spend our time honoring Him, right? Doesn't He want us to make the best decisions? Then why is He so quiet sometimes?
I'm sure you can relate. We all face decisions in life, some big some small. Life is full of them! But what are we supposed to do when we face one of those bigger decisions, and God doesn't seem to be speaking "loud enough"?
Recently, I have been stuck in Proverbs 16. I'm trying to read through the Old Testament, but it's hard when one chapter speaks to you over and over again. I have had to spend day after day re-reading it. Several verses stood out to me that related to this area of decision making. I encourage you to read the chapter in its entirety, but here are some highlights that I took note of.
(these verses are from the Amplified Bible...I don't typically read this version, but I was trying to make sense of the verses from a different perspective. Feel free to read in whichever version you prefer) =)
The plans and reflections of the heart belong to man, but the [wise] answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean and innocent in his own eyes [and he may see nothing wrong with his actions], but the Lord weighs and examines the motives and intents [of the heart and knows the truth]. Commit your works to the Lord [submit and trust them to Him], and your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance]. -Proverbs 16:1-3
A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], but the Lord directs his steps and establishes them. -Proverbs 16:9
There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but its end is the way of death. -Proverbs 16:25
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. -Proverbs 16:33
I have been chewing on these verses for a few days. Please read over them for yourself and ask God what He wants you to see. The thoughts below are my interpretation... but I would love to hear if you sensed a different meaning to those passages. (and the complete chapter)
First, I want to share a thought I had. Picture a young mother raising her children. Her love for them is obvious, and she wants them to grow up into responsible, wise adults. While they are yet toddlers, she has to teach them exactly what to do. Hold the spoon like this. Clean up your messes. Don't have an attitude when I say "no". Stay by my side when we're outside. Don't run into the street. She makes their decisions for them.
As the children grow older, the mother grants them more freedom. She still has to correct them. Finish your math, please. No, you can't go over there alone. However, the mother doesn't have to monitor them as closely. She lets them begin to make their own decisions. Why? The parent understands that her children have more wisdom. They still fall short quite often, but they now can face decisions and carefully weigh their actions. The mother doesn't need to force them to obey her or to do wise things. She desires for them to obey because they love her and to live wisely because they know that's the right thing to do.
Recently, I have been wondering if perhaps God treats us in a similar way. Does He remain silent at times to see if we can make decisions in a wise, honoring manner? Does He want to see our inmost heart, to make sure that we are carefully weighing our steps according to His will? If God seems to be distant or speaking too quietly, is there a possibility that this is a testing to determine how tuned our hearts are to His?
Proverbs says that "a man's mind plans his way" and "the plans and reflections of the heart belong to man." But it also concludes that, "the Lord directs his steps and establishes them" and "the answer of the tongue is from the Lord."
What I'm wondering is what is our position in this decision making process? Are we always to sit back and wait quietly for the Lord to speak? Does God sometimes want us to step up, evaluate our motives, make wise decisions based off the Bible and our knowledge of Him, and finally commit out decisions to the Lord?
I used to think that decision making was 100% up to God. I would pray about them, of course, but I would wait for God to give me a clear, very obvious answer. Yet is it also true that sometimes God remains quiet so that we are forced to really examine our lives and decisions?
This idea is new to me, and I'm not completely sure if I'm wrong or right. I think there's a delicate balance. We want to wait on God, but we cannot become lazy assuming that our job is to merely sit back and listen. Sometimes we need to take the first step, examine our motives and intents, but not rush ahead of God's leading.
So what about you? What decisions are you facing? Have you sat down and examined them in light of God's Word? What are your reasons for wanting to do a particular thing? Is it pride, selfishness, or truly a desire to make God known?
This summer we have an opportunity to make a difference. As we focus on abiding in Christ, what will out choices be? Let's focus on examining our opportunities in light of God's Word, making sure our own intents are pure, and submitting them to Him for His final approval.
Are you experiencing a time of decision making? What do you think our role is in this process? And why do you think God remains silent at times? Comment below!